5 on Friday: 5 Things I’m Loving Lately

Welcome to 5 on Friday, a little list of things I’m enjoying lately.  I got this idea from Tim Ferris who sends out his 5 Bullet Friday posts to all his email subscribers and Laura Tremaine’s Secret Posts. If you’re interested you can check out Tim’s website at Tim.blog and Laura’s at 10thingstotellyou.com . I thought it would be fun to do a short and simple posts of things I’m enjoying lately. Every week you’ll find different content…could be books I’m reading, movies, tv, recipes, quotes, skincare, articles, household items etc….anything I’m enjoying to pass along in the hope that you might also find something you’d like.

Podcast I’m Enjoying 
10 Things To Tell You  with Laura Tremaine. This is a new podcast and so far I’ve really liked the first 2 episodes, one about fitting in reading and the other about loneliness. I love the easy way Laura speaks about topics and how she comes across as a friend you can picture yourself having coffee and good conversation with

Article That Perfectly Describes My Reading Life 
What It’s Like to Be A Mood Reader  by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner. I love this article! I said yes to every item she discussed except number 9. Lately I’ve really been struggling with not being in the mood for anything I pick up and I don’t know if it’s because I have tried to read too many new releases that are leaving me disappointed or the fact that what I have managed to finish has been 3 stars or less. This tends to kill my reading mojo and steer me straight into a slump. Combine that with looming reviews for all the Feb new releases and I’ve been plain stuck! Anyone else a mood reader or struggling with reading this winter?

Bustle’s February Book List to Increase My TBR…Even More
24 Fiction Books Coming Out in Feb That You Definitely Need to Read  There are SO many books coming out if Feb! I’m really looking forward to The Last Romantics  and American Spy

Book I Had Avoided Reading but Am Really Enjoying 
Little Fires Everywhere  by Celeste Ng. I think this was a case of me avoiding this book because it was so hyped when it came out. I’m reading this for one of IRL book clubs and I’m really enjoying the suburban drama. The author has a way of writing characters and dialogue that feel real. 

My Current Favorite Clay Face Mask 
Alive Prebiotic Balancing Mask  from Algenist. I know I’ve mentioned the Algenist skin care line before, I love their eye balm as well. I’ve been trying different masks over the last couple months, including several different sheet masks plus a peel off but I’m decided I’m partial to clay masks. This one is gentle and leaves my face soft but not tight. I think it’s especially helpful in the cold winter months .  ( I’m not an affiliate just love this line of skincare)

Do you have thoughts on my favorites this week? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!!






Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Graham Smith’s new crime novel Watching the Bodies available now from Bloodhound Books. I’m thrilled to share with you this awesome guest post from the author. Enjoy!


Watching the Bodies


Book Description:

When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.

As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive.

Guest Post by Graham Smith

Is violence on the page entertaining or gratuitous?

This is a debate that’s as old as the hills or at least the debate about using clichés in writing.

Let’s be clear from the start; violence of any kind towards a human being or another living creature is abhorrent.

Yet as a writer, I love the elements that violence puts into my toolbox.

First and foremost, violence or the threat of violence, is a major driver of stories. Once our hero, Clint Squarejaw, has been established as a decent person we need to have something for him (or her) to do.

As someone who writes at the darker end of the spectrum, I’m not going to have Clint looking for a lost wedding ring or kidnapped cat. I’ll give him a task I find more interesting.

In my hands he’s basically going to be tasked with one or two scenarios. He’ll either be investigating an act of violence or trying to prevent one. It could be a single murder or a plot to kill millions.

Sometimes I’ll use both methods. In the case of a serial killer, the first murders are being investigated in the hope future ones will be prevented.

Now that I’ve established my jumping off point, I think it’s fair to point out that my stories include a lot of violent acts. In a different series, I have had someone executed with a nailgun, another person lost a limb to a blowtorch and naturally, I had to decapitate another character.

The issue I always have with violence is striking the balance between using it to drive the story and writing gratuitously visceral scenes. As a reader, I have read about torture as it happens and have read passages which had me wincing and shifting my eyes from the page every few lines.

I’ve never wanted to have my readers doing the peek and wince method so I keep most of my violence off the page. This is especially true for the more brutal murders which my villains tend to commit.

I’m very much of the opinion that Clint Squarejaw’s imaginings of the vicious murders is far more palatable than me writing page after page of some poor character being killed, dismembered, raped or otherwise hurt. The aftermath is always a more fertile playground for me and I can toss in a little forensic detail, some mysterious element and a sense of angst for poor old Clint.

Another facet to this, is that I firmly believe my readers are more interested in my characters than the random acts of brutality which litter my stories. Once in a while I will show some violence on the page and it will usually involve my hero fighting those who are guilty or are trying to hurt him.

For me this is acceptable violence to show; as however violent my hero may be when the need arises, he’ll never cross to the point where he’s being brutal for the sake of it. Sure, he may kill people and dish out a generous helping of retribution from time to time, but he’ll never be sadistic for the sake of it.

Any violence I do put onto the page which involves my villains harming their victims will always be done with the minimum of detail and will often focus on the emotional implications rather than the physical ones.

This is my outlook on violence in crime stories, but please comment below or look me up on social media as I’d love to hear what other writers and readers deem acceptable.

Wasn’t this interesting? Thank you Graham for sharing your thoughts on violence in novels. I for one appreciate the violence being left off the page and not the focus of scenes! 


Graham Smith Author Pic


Author Bio:

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and one book, in a new series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

“Watching the Bodies is a storming addition to the action thriller genre, and Jake Boulder a new tough guy to root for. Be under no illusion, Boulder is no Jack Reacher or Joe Hunter c

Be sure to stop by these other fantastic blogs on the tour





Author Website



REVIEW: I FOUND YOU by Lisa Jewell



Published April 25, 2017 By Atria Books

‘How long have you been sitting out here?

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel.


This book releases TODAY and I’m telling you it’s FANTASTIC and UNPUTDOWNABLE!   Am I over-doing the adjectives?  Oh well, I can’t help it because I LOVED this book. As many of you may remember, I did a mini-review of this one back in November so for everyone who missed that I wanted to provide a full review now.

The story takes place in a quaint coastal seaside town (a favorite setting of mine) which I imagine looks very much like the awesome cover of the book! It’s the story of Alice, Lily and a man with no memory of who he is or how he ended up on a beach in this British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay. The narrative starts crisp and engaging with Alice, who I immediately connected with and liked. I mean within the first few pages of meeting Alice, hearing her speak, being privy to her thoughts, I was rooting for her. Could be that I totally sympathized  with having to try to reason with dogs who weren’t listening and following directions! Whatever the reason, Lisa Jewell pulled me in in those first few pages and I knew I wasn’t leaving my couch anytime soon.

The plot was intriguing in that it alternates between Alice’s situation, Lily’s predicament of her missing husband, and the goings on of the Ross family on their vacation in 1993. You will get to know all of these characters while at the same time trying to figure out the heart of this mystery. Or should I say mysteries because there really is more than one! Let me tell you, I had my theories throughout this page turner but just when I thought I for sure had it figured out Lisa Jewell added a new detail or revealed a different layer and I was second guessing what I thought I knew. I love it when that happens! I really don’t want to say anymore about the plot because ( for me ) I really enjoyed not knowing anything about his book other than the Goodreads blurb.

Here’s what’s important to know…the chapters are short, the dialogue is spot on and the mystery is puzzling. Add to that the allure of the setting and you’ve got a one-sit read because I’d be really surprised if you can put this down after starting it…I couldn’t.

Many thanks to Bookreporter.com’s Sneak Peak contest and Atria Books for my copy of this book. I’m happy to provide an honest review



With the start of the new year and my blog still being pretty new I wanted to have a special feature every now and then that either highlights a book discussion topic or showcases someone interesting in the book world! When I think of an interesting person in the book world I need look no further than my good friend and fellow book reviewer Joe Hartlaub. I met Joe almost 3 years ago when I reviewed for Bookreporter.com for a short time. I had read his reviews every week and thoroughly enjoyed his reviewing style and recommendations. I wrote to him asking for advice on reviewing and he graciously took the time to help out a newbie and a friendship was born. I always like discussing all things books and authors with Joe as we have very similar interests in genres and he has THE BEST stories about happenings in the world of books, authors and publishing!! So, welcome to my blog Joe and thanks so much for taking the time to answer some reviewing questions and share some of your advice, recommendations, and stories with us!! Oh and you won’t want to miss Joe’s Top Reads of 2016, so let’s get started…

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m 65. I am married and have 3.75 adult children, as well as a granddaughter who is 10 going on 22. I currently live in the Columbus, Ohio area. I’ve been a practicing attorney for forty years and specialize in intellectual property law. To date I’ve had several short stories published, one of which — “Starlets and Spaceboys” — has been optioned for film. And speaking of film, I have a feature role in the film LA-308. Oh, and I review books for Bookreporter.com, too!

 How many years have you been with Bookreporter.com and what led you to book reviewing?

I have been with Bookreporter.com for almost 20 years. Way back in 1997 The Book Report (as Book Reporter was known at that time) was the “Books” section for AOL. Life was different then. You dialed up on a dedicated phone line to access the internet — cell phones were only for talking — and AOL was the portal. I sent an email to one of TBR’s reviewers and started a correspondence. She asked me at one point if I was interested in reviewing. I said yes and we went from there.
Have you been a reader all your life? What are your current favorite genres? How, if at all, has your reading preferences or genre favorites changed over the years?

I have been reading since I was three years old My mom read me Rudy Kazootie books before I could read myself. I really learned to read myself when I discovered comic strips in newspapers. I LOVED Dick Tracy, The Phantom, and Prince Valiant. I went from there to comic books — which I still look at, occasionally — and then to detective fiction — everything from The Hardy Boys to Shell Scott — and science fiction. Isaac Asimov wrote a children’s science fiction series — Lucky Starr — under the name “Paul French” and that got me going into that genre. I don’t read much science fiction anymore but still read primarily mystery and detective fiction.

 You’ve reviewed thousands of books, how do you keep your reviews fresh?

I try to keep in mind that every single author spent months trying to produce something new and original that would interest people enough to read it. I figure that the least I can do in acknowledgement of that is spend a few minutes finding a new way to discuss it.
 What’s the best part of being a book reviewer? The worst or most challenging?
The best part is having access to so many new books. The worst part is not having the time to read and review everything I would like to. It seems like so much gets past me.
 Do you have a reviewing format as far as things you always make sure you discuss in reviews?
What has kind of evolved over time is a three paragraph review. The first paragraph tells something about the author and the series. The second discusses the book itself. The third tries to sum up the literary elements that I particularly enjoyed. I don’t hold to this as a hard and fast rule but more often than not it’s what happens.
 How do you tackle a review for a book that you didn’t particularly enjoy?
Ahhh…excellent question. At Bookreporter.com we try to steer readers toward books they might look, as opposed to away from books. When I read a book that I don’t particularly like I try to focus on two things: 1) just because I didn’t like a book doesn’t mean that it’s a bad book. There are authors who are enormously popular who I don’t read for whatever reason. I accordingly try to evaluate the plot and characters and focus upon how well they hold the book together. 2) I made this statement on a panel several years ago — before ebooks and kindles and widespread self-publishing — and another reviewer took exception with it, but it’s true….every book that is traditionally published has some worth to it. It went through an agent, to an editor, and onward and upward. Those folks all saw something in it. That’s what I look for.
 What are some of your favorite book events you’ve attended and can you share any memorable author stories with us?

Bouchercon is always a good time. I haven’t been to a Thrillerfest for a while but they were fun as well and I imagine they still are. Killer Nashville is terrific. The folks who run it are first rate and Nashville is a wonderful city.

Memorable author stories? Oh yeah! I have a bunch of them. The most memorable one is driving to the first official Thrillerfest in Phoenix with the incomparable Marcus Wynne. We gave a few weapons instruction panels so we had a trunkload of shotguns, weapons, knives, and hand grenades, driving across he desert. My transmission went out in Phoenix so I was delayed a week, stuck in a seedy hotel room alone — Marcus had to get back to Illinois — with a roomful of weapons. And then things got worse. I met the wrong guy while my car was being fixed and got in the middle of some things and had to go a little over the top to get out of town. I’ll never forget that.

 What are your favorite titles that stand out for you over the last year or two?

THE EEL by David McKinnon immediately comes to mind, particularly because my reaction was a) how did he even conceive of this? and b) this is so beautifully written. Right now I’m reading DESPERATION ROAD by Michael Farris Smith which is so good that I’m deliberately pacing myself while I read it because I don’t want it to end. Your readers might especially like SECURITY by Gina Wohlsdorf, a very literate thriller which has contains multiple twists and has a very subtle dose of traditional romance thrown into the mix.

 What authors do you think everyone should be reading?
Oh, wow…James Lee Burke, James Sallis, Peter Farris, Cormac McCarthy, the late Larry Brown, Donald Ray Pollack, James O. Born, Robin Yocum, John Connolly, the late Elmore Leonard, David McKinnon…I could go on and on. I’ll think of several more by the time you post this and kick myself for not mentioning them.

 You also write for  Kill Zone Blog.com, how do you come up with your topics for those posts?

With great difficulty. It’s primarily an instructional writing site and I do not consider myself a good teacher. I usually fall back on an experience I’ve had and try to compare that to the writing life. I’ve been very fortunate to be part of that and hope to continue.
 What advice can you give reviewers/bloggers when it comes to writing reviews, creating interesting discussion posts, and just trying to keep it all fresh and creative?

Try to have fun with it. If you can’t get an idea or what you are writing seems boring to you go do something else, like listening to music or watching fifteen minutes of a series that is new to you before resuming your writing.
 Any projects in the works you’d like to share with us?

I’m working on a few things, but primarily a straight fiction, non-genre novel based on the experiences of a friend of mine from when he was in his mid-twenties. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing but it’s coming along nicely.

Thanks so much Joe and best of luck to you on your writing project , I for one will be first in line to read it…I’m sure I’ll get a coveted advanced copy (hint hint:) 

Be sure to stop by Bookreporter.com for all of Joe’s reviews as well as many others. They also run fun contests and sneak peaks!!

Now to finish off this fantastic interview I give you Joe’s Top Reads of 2016.…hopefully you find many new books to add to your already towering TBR’s:) 


Security by Gina Wohlsdorf
The employees of a new resort hotel are systematically being murdered on the eve of the property’s opening in this wonderfully literate and claustrophobic thriller by a debut author who along the way redefines heroism and romance. A must-read.

A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum
This gem of a book offers a mystery, a coming-of-age story, and a character study set in a place and time that is all but gone. Most of all, however, it is a wonderfully told story that deserves to be read over and over.

Willnot by James Sallis
One of fiction’s most reliable authors, well into his fifth decade of work, returns and yet once again rewrites the rules of constructing the mystery novel in this tale of a small town physician (and occasional veterinarian) who finds himself acting as a somewhat reluctant private investigator. It hopefully will be the first of a series.

The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke
This 1950s period piece and coming-of-age tale contains a mystery at its heart. If The Hardy Boys series of the 1950s had been a series for adults and written by our finest contemporary author, it would have looked something like this.

Friday on My Mind  A Frieda Klein Mystery by Nicci French
This husband and wife writing team deserves far greater recognition than it has received for this superlative series involving Frieda Klein, a damaged and difficult psychotherapist, and this latest installment is the best of the lot so far.

Every Man a Menace by Patrick Hoffman
Read the first paragraph of this wonderfully dark, noir caper novel with five interlocking sections, and you will not stop reading until story’s end. Then pick up last year’s THE WHITE VAN.

IQ by Joe Ide
Just when you think you’ve read every permutation of protagonist there is, a debut author presents a quiet, realistic private investigator with genius level functioning and pragmatic compassion. I hope that this series runs until the end of time.

Bronx Requiem by John Clarkson
Veteran author John Clarkson surpasses the significant expectations that he created last year with AMONG THIEVES in this sophomore installment of a series concerning a group of hardened ex-cons who attempt to assist newly released offenders and often find themselves on the wrong end of both sides of the law. Gritty and memorable.

A Time of Torment A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly
My bucket list includes re-reading all of the Charlie Parker books from alpha to present, and A TIME OF TORMENT is the latest reason why, as Parker, recovering from serious injuries, leaves his familiar Maine environs to confront an ancient evil in West Virginia.

The EEl by David MacKinnon
David MacKinnon is one of the best and smartest authors out there, and THE EEL, which defies classification and a short summary, is an instant old school and new school classic dealing with a failed author obsessed with the life, work and death of Blaise Cendrars, among many other things. It informs, challenges and entertains from first page to last.